The Audi A4 must be doing something right. The sedan version alone sells more than 40,000 units annually in the U.S., while competing against the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, and a growing list of domestic and Asian rivals. In a segment where engineering excellence sells cars, Audi claims the turbo-four A4 delivers best-in-class fuel economy, while posting quicker 0-60 mph acceleration times than six-cylinder, all-wheel-drive competitors such as the BMW 328iX, Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic, and Lexus IS250 AWD. The A4 also has on average more passenger room than the BMW 328, Mercedes C300, or Lexus IS250.
Audi completely redesigned the A4 for 2009, and this latest generation is as closely related to the recent A5 coupe and cabriolet as to the previous A4 sedan. At once familiar as an Audi yet obviously new, the A4 was changed most in ways you can't see. The current A4 is wider and longer but no taller than its predecessor. It's larger inside with the most notable improvement to rear-seat legroom, and it has a more usable trunk that is easier to load. A large increase in wheelbase, which is more than six inches longer than before, increases cabin space and improves ride quality and handling. And an adjustable suspension similar to that used on larger Audis is now available.
Despite its modest size the A4 comes well-equipped with leather, moonroof and automatic climate control as standard. Features normally associated with big luxury cars are available, such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and a half-kilowatt surround-sound system.
2010 A4 Prestige models come with voice-control navigation, and all navigation-equipped A4's feature third-generation MMI (Audi's Multi-Media Interface) and Sirius traffic updates. A Bang & Olufsen audio system is optional on Premium Plus as well as Prestige models; and Premium models package Bluetooth and Homelink as a single option.
All three 2010 A4 trim levels (Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige) now share the same engine, a 211-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. Sedans are available with front-wheel drive and a CVT automatic; or all-wheel drive with either a six-speed manual or six-speed Tiptronic automatic. The A4 Avant station wagon comes exclusively with the six-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive, and so it starts at a somewhat higher price. EPA ratings range from 18/27 to 23/30 mpg.
For 2010, Audi has re-introduced the truly high-performance S4 sedan, packing a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 positively rippling with 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque; and pawing the pavement through a rear-biased quattro all-wheel-drive and 18-inch wheels. Unique appearance items inside and out guarantee that neither you nor your neighbors will forget what you're driving.
We've found these latest A4 models a delight to drive. They are compliant enough to soak up bumps like a larger car but firm enough to feel solid and stable to its (electronically limited) top speed of 130 mph. This latest-generation A4 rides like a larger car than did the pre-2009 models, but it also handles better than it did before. The front-drive A4 is not as delicately precise as a rear-drive 3 Series. But the quattro holds its own against the other all-wheel-drive cars. It more than holds its own in the rain against other sporty cars as well.